Thursday, July 6, 2017

At Risk to Die of BB's

After some routine blood work involving a small vial of My Precious being extracted from my left arm, I had a follow up appointment with my new Asian doctor.  Although I should point out that he is far more fluent in my native language than I am in his, issues remain.

"Blood levels not good. Too high. You at risk to die of BBs."

This came as a complete shock, first because I assumed my risk of dying of BBs dropped dramatically after my brothers stopped shooting me; and second, because even with all the trumpeted advancements in medicine, I couldn’t see how a simple blood test could reveal the risk of a future BB shot. 
“The patient’s blood looks normal, with that red color we’ve come to expect, but his BB titers are elevated.  The short term risk of a lethal BB shot is quite high.”

Then it occurred to me that maybe what the doctor meant was that the test revealed BBs already present in the blood, BBs that have presumably been there for decades. 

If so, the BBs would have company.  I remember one day when I dropped my pencil while sitting on a stool in a Lyman High drafting class in Longwood, Florida, north of Orlando.  I had the presence of mind and the catlike reflexes to clap my legs together and catch it, thus saving me the trouble of stepping off the stool to retrieve it, as some of my slower classmates had to do when they dropped their pencils.  Had my recently sharpened pencil been falling vertically, this clapping together of the legs might have been a good plan.  It was not.  If you are ever assigned the task of identifying my body, let me make it easy for you.  Look for a 1/8 inch black foreign object below the skin on my right thigh about six inches above the knee.
The recalling of my Drafting Class misfortune reminds me of something I did in Typing Class that sheds light (if any was needed) on what I valued most in high school, which was less in the line of good grades and permanent records and more in the line of getting a laugh. 

“I thought you were telling us about a conversation with your doctor?” 

Don’t worry about him.  He can wait for me now.  Let’s see how he likes it.  He should be grateful I haven’t asked him to remove his clothes and put on a flimsy gown until I get back to him.

Lyman’s Typing Class, ruled by the Business Education Department Head, a no-nonsense matron named Mary McLaughlin, met in a room just off the large paved area where the Drivers’ Education Class was held.  I know what you’re thinking, and frankly, I don’t appreciate your tone of thought. The answer is no, our curriculum wasn’t all drafting, typing and driving.  We also had the occasional academic class, which is how I’m able to recognize sarcasm when I imagine it, along with the occasional onomatopoeia.   

On one particularly muggy Central Florida day the windows were wide open and we could clearly hear the student drivers, at regular intervals, beeping their horns, no doubt at the request of Mr. Brewer, the Drivers’ Education instructor. 

The thought occurred to me that the intermittent short beeps were not unlike what a driver would do if he pulled into a drive-in restaurant and sought to get the attention of what we used to call a car-hop (think a waitress at Sonic).  

So after at least a full second of careful forethought, I went to a window and yelled as loudly as I could,

“We don’t give curb service!” 

As I recall, this amused the class, with one notable exception.  I believe the result was one of my impromptu visits with Principal Henley, to whom you were introduced if you are one of the (literally dozens) of Americans who have read about my flight over the high school in my little book, Wry Bread.

All right.  I suppose my doctor has waited a sufficient time to develop a bit of empathy for his long-suffering patients.  You will recall that he said to me,

“You are at risk to die of BBs.”  

I protested. "How could that be? I haven't been shot with a BB for over fifty years."

"No no, BeTIES. You at risk to die of Beties."

He elaborated. Insofar as I understood him, the takeaway was, if and when this fellow Beties gets his hands on me, I could die a painful death over years, getting shot numerous times, having open wounds, losing a foot or two and maybe going blind.  And the worst part of it is, during that whole time, Beties won't let me eat cookies, cake or candy bars. Furthermore, the doctor called Beties "a silent killer," so while he's torturing me, he won't even have the decency to update me on the Oriole scores.

I had as much trouble believing that a blood test could reveal the risk of kidnapping and torture as believing it could reveal the risk of being shot with a BB, but I have been put in my place by doctors before (see Hospital Cat Scams), so I deferred to his medical license and subscribed to a home security service.

Evidently this Beties fellow has gotten away with kidnapping and murder for decades, while the FBI has been preoccupied reading Hillary’s emails and looking into Russians tampering with our elections.  Hopefully, when the president makes America great again (which should be any day now) he'll capture and lock up old man Beties, and I can go back to being at risk of dying of heart disease, as most other men at this advanced stage.

Whether I leave this life in the clutches of diabetes, heart disease, or bloodstream BBs, it is certain I’ll leave it, and whatever your age now, you won’t be that far behind.  You may even precede me.  Immediately after your departure it will be abundantly clear that whatever the cause of death printed on the certificate given your family, the ultimate cause was sin---the sin and rebellion of mankind, undeniable through history, and the personal sin of your own soul.  “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)    In that hour, what will matter to you is the answer to this question:

“Will you face, on your own, the holy wrath of your Creator for your thoughts, words and actions that violated his law, or have your sins been covered by the redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ?”

He is the only one who ever lived without sin, thus the only one who did not deserve death and judgment, yet He endured the wrath of His Father.  Why?  He did so as our substitute, as the Lamb of God who takes away our sin.  God treated Jesus as if He were a sinner, so He could treat you as if you were righteous.  Jesus did not actually become a sinner when our sins were laid upon Him (transferred to His account, so to speak) and you do not actually become righteous when His righteousness is transferred to your account. But you are “declared to be righteous,” and you are “treated as righteous,” because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to you. 

At that point you are, as the Reformers put it, “Simul iustus et peccatore.”

Simul (at the same time---think simultaneous)

iustus  (just/righteous---think justice)

et (and---just think and.  It’s like “la, a note to follow so.” You just have to remember it.)

peccatore (sinner---think peccadillo, an offense, a sin)

When your sins have been transferred to Christ, and His righteousness transferred to you, you are, at the same time, both righteous (declared righteous by God, viewed as righteous because of the transference of Christ’s righteousness to you) and sinner (because you will not be without sin until you are in Christ’s presence, glorified.)

The most important blood test you will ever take is the ultimate one:  Has the blood of Christ been applied to you?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”  (Romans 5:8-9)

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